Santa Clara University

The-Big-Q_Header_4
 
RSS

The Big Q

A dialogue on the big questions college students face. Like The Big Q now on Facebook to stay updated on the latest post and winners.

  •  Group Project

    Monday, May. 2, 2011

    Kyle, Mia, Raymond, and Jasmine have been friends since they started college as communication majors three years ago. This semester, they're all taking the quantitative research methods class, which requires a group project instead of a final exam. The four of them decide to work together on the project, which includes designing and carrying out a survey, and writing a report on their findings.

    Problems crop up pretty quickly. Mia is also taking a TV production class at the same time, which is enormously time consuming. She misses the meeting where the group finalizes the wording of the survey and divvies up the responsibilities for administering it. When she learns what her group has assigned her, she tells them right away that there's no way she can complete so many surveys by the deadline because of all the work she has for TV production. Instead, she offers to take on more of the writing when the time comes to do the report.

    Although the others aren't thrilled with this arrangement, they cover part of her assigned surveys so that they can stay on schedule. Mia makes good on her promise to do extra writing for the final report, but she's really pressed for time, and the rest of the team is very unhappy with the quality of her work. Should they hand the report in as is or rewrite it? If they rewrite it, should they tell the professor that Mia did not do her share?

    Best student comment wins a $50 Amazon gift certificate.  Comments must be posted by May 8, 2011, at midnight.

    Here are some resources:

    Group Project Tips for College Students

    Ethics of Team Work

    Framework for Ethical Decision Making

     

    Photo by hackNY available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial License.

  •  A New Study Buddy

    Monday, Apr. 25, 2011

    It has been a hectic fall quarter. Jack is checking his finals schedule: two exams on Tuesday (back to back) and two on Wednesday. How is he going to possibly do all of this studying? As he sits looking over his notes, Amanda, a classmate sits next to him, and he complains about  the amount of work he's going to have to do.

    She suggests Jack take a pill to help him concentrate and study better: Adderall. He really doesn't know what Adderall is, but Amanda says it will be okay.  She has a prescription (a lot of kids take it for attention deficit disorder to help them focus), and he can trust her. She assures him that many college kids take Adderall and other drugs to help them study during finals week. Does Jack take the pill, believing his classmate and hoping that this will really help? Or does he decide that maybe it's not such a good idea to be taking pills to study especially if it's someone else's prescription?

    Here are some resources that may be helpful:

     Is Using Study Drugs Cheating

    Towards responsible use of cognitive-enhancing drugs by the healthy (Nature)

    Adderall (& Other Stimulant) Abuse on Campus

    Framework for Ethical Decision Making

     

    Photo by hipsxxheart available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial License.

     

  •  Not Hungry

    Monday, Apr. 18, 2011

    Jaya has always been thin, but recently she has started to look emaciated. Jaya used to meet her roommate, Naomi, and some of their mutual friends for dinner, but lately, she tells Naomi she is "just going to grab something on the way to the library."

    Also, Jaya works out like a fiend, running twice a day and doing endless crunches. Naomi has heard that this pattern is common in people with the eating disorder anorexia. She has tried to broach the subject with Jaya, but Jaya angrily denied that she had a problem. Last week, though, Jaya passed out after doing her evening sit-ups. She’s also cold all the time, no matter the temperature in the room. Naomi is truly worried.

    What should Naomi do?  Should she talk to someone at the University Health Service?  Should she call Jaya's parents?

    Here are some resources that may be helpful:

    Symptoms of Eating Disorders: Mayo Clinic

    Something Fishy Website on Eating Disorders

    A Framework for Thinking Ethically

     

    Photo by Futurilla available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial License.

     

  •  Theme Party

    Monday, Apr. 11, 2011

    Michelle is looking through Facebook after class and notices that her good friend Anthony has a new album uploaded on his profile entitled “FOBs R Us.” Michelle looks through the photos and video clips and sees that both white students and students of color are depicting stereotypes of immigrants from Asia. There are people speaking in fake accents, wearing pointed farmer’s hats and ethnic garb, bowing to each other, posing in mock martial arts positions, and carrying around chopsticks in their pockets.

    Michelle knows that most of the photos were taken at a “Fresh Off the Boat” party Anthony held the weekend before. Michelle was invited but made up an excuse not to go because the whole idea made her uncomfortable. Now that she sees the photos, she’s even more uncomfortable, but she notices that a lot of her friends have “liked” pictures from the album. Is there something wrong with Michelle’s sense of humor, or is there something wrong with the FOBs R Us?

    Here are some resources that might be helpful:

    Racist Theme Parties: Freedom of Speech or Freedom to Hate 

    Discussion of UCSD "Compton Cookout" by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education

    A Framework for Ethical Decision Making

    Photo by Swamibu available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial License.

  •  Friends With Benefits

    Monday, Apr. 4, 2011

    Seniors Sarah and Ben, who have been good friends since freshman year, became “friends with benefits” after a party a month ago. They just kind of fell into bed with each other. Over time, though, Sarah has started to have romantic feelings for Ben. She continues for a while in their current arrangement, in the hope that Ben will at some point begin to reciprocate her feelings. Eventually, however, as she comes to realize that a long-term relationship doesn’t seem to be in the cards, she tells Ben that she no longer wants sex to be part of their relationship.

    That weekend, they decide to go to a party together. The beer is flowing freely, and both of them get drunk. As the evening wears on, they end up going home together and hooking up. When she wakes up in Ben’s apartment the next morning, Sarah realizes that she and Ben have had sex even though she had told him she didn’t want to do that anymore. She’s furious with Ben, but he reminds her that they both were pretty wasted.

    Who is at fault? Why?

    Best student response to this case wins $50.  Comments must be posted by April 10 at midnight.  Rules

    Here are some resources that may help: 

    Alcohol and Consent (Dalhousie University)

    Hooking Up (Religion and Ethics Weekly)

    Sex and the Soul (video of Donna Freitas)

     Risk Factors and Consequences of Unwanted Sex Among University Students

  •  Poster Wars: An Ethics Perspective

    Friday, Apr. 1, 2011

    Mary puts up a poster on her dorm room door opposing gay marriage. James, a floormate, finds it offensive. What should happen?

    Read the full case

    The other responders to this case have covered several of the ethical issues, especially how to balance the right of free speech with the harm that may come from attacking someone else’s identity.

    Identity has become an increasingly important part of ethics. For a long time, ethics was much more concerned with whether some isolated action was right or wrong, and not as concerned with who was doing the action—with the person’s history, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, core values, context, and all the other things that make us who we really are and that profoundly affect what we do.

    While this new dimension of identity has been a boon for ethics in many ways, there are times when it has stopped ethical reflection dead in its tracks. This happens when identity becomes something unchanging, beyond challenge, unable to be discussed, and easily offended: I am who I am, and you have no right to infringe on my sense of who I am. When I speak, I am asserting who I am in a way that you may not question.

    But identity can’t be locked down, definitely not in life and rightfully not in the swirl of conversation that is college life. We may affirm something constant about who we are, but we have to acknowledge that we are always changing, too. And speech—whether it’s a poster on a dorm room door or a discussion in class—is the great engine of this change. Could the poster on Mary’s door initiate a conversation in the dorm that changes the way that Mary and James see themselves? Perhaps that conversation leads them to change their opinions of Prop 8. Perhaps it leads them to re-affirm those opinions. Perhaps what emerges is an unforeseen, diverse community on a dorm hallway previously inhabited by separate, fixed identities of the too-rigidly assertive and the too-easily offended.


    Who is David DeCosse?

    Agree with David?  Have another perspective?  Leave us your feedback?  Today is the last day for a chance to win $50 for the best comment on Poster Wars.

  •  Poster Wars: A Parent's Perspective

    Thursday, Mar. 31, 2011

    To think about this case, I have to go back to the primary reason I sent my kids to college: to be educated. If I had wanted them to encounter only the ideas I raised them with, they might as well have stayed home. From that perspective, I’d say that a campus should remain open to different viewpoints to the widest extent possible. In other words, Mary’s poster stays.

    That doesn’t mean I’m insensitive to the offense James feels—or the pain a Jewish student may feel when a floormate posts a “Zionism=Racism” poster or a Latino student may feel about a "Support Arizona" poster.  While there may be some posters that are beyond the pale even for me, the examples above are expressions of political beliefs. I may not agree with them, but as a general rule, I think the value of dialogue on a university campus supersedes the possible offense such expressions may create.

     

  •  Poster Wars: According to Cameron

    Wednesday, Mar. 30, 2011

    Mary puts up a poster on her dorm room door opposing gay marriage. James, a floormate, finds it offensive. What should happen?

    Read the full case

    Mary is well within her rights to post her “Yes on Prop 8” poster. Though I do not agree with her opinion, I believe she should be allowed to express it, as long as she does so in a civil way. Mary is not forcing her opinion on anyone, and she is not speaking out against the gay community.

    I think James is overreacting to Mary’s opinion because it conflicts with his own. By trying to force Mary to take her poster down, James is being extremely hypocritical. Mary could easily turn James’ own argument against him, and say she is offended by his opinion and demand that he take down all of his posters.

    There is a clear difference between open prejudice and an expression of opinion or support for a certain viewpoint. Even as a supporter of gay rights, including the right to marry a person of the same sex, I think it is extremely important that no opinion (except overly hateful or clearly offensive displays) be suppressed. After all, if both James and Mary and their respective parties were not able to express their opinions, none of them would have any say in the matter whatsoever. I doubt this would be appealing to James, seeing as the very rights he is campaigning for were the product of the right to free speech, the same free speech that Mary is entitled to.

    Who is Cameron Tow?

    Agree with Cameron?  Think he has it all wrong?  Post your comment for the chance to win $50 prize for best student response.  Rules

    Photo by Dana Rocks available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial License.

    Photo used under creative commons from Dana Rocks
    Photo used under creative commons from Dana Rocks
  •  Poster Wars: Deepti Says

    Tuesday, Mar. 29, 2011

    Mary puts up a poster on her dorm room door opposing gay marriage. James, a floormate, finds it offensive. What should happen?

    Read the full case

    It seems to me that Mary would be in the wrong for putting such a poster in a hallway through which James, and others who may themselves be homosexual, are compelled to walk. The dorm hallway is as much part of James’ temporary home as it is part of Mary’s. For Mary to put her neighbor in a position in which he is confronted on a daily basis with an [albeit silent] attack to his very identity, within a space that could be considered his home, is unethical. James has a right to feel respected and secure within his own home. To view on a daily basis a public denouncement of his rights would not be conducive to any such feelings.

    If Mary keeps the poster up, she must be prepared for a neighbor to post on his or her door an attack on some aspect of her own identity. The dorm director, who has a responsibility to ensure that all residents feel secure, should request that Mary move the poster to someplace within the confines of her own room, provided her roommate is not offended by it.

    Who is Deepti Shenoy?

    Agree with Deepti?  Think she has it all wrong?  Post your comment for the chance to win $50 prize for best student response.  Rules

  •  Poster Wars: When Is Speech Offensive?

    Monday, Mar. 28, 2011
    Photo used under creative commons from Dana Rocks
    Photo used under creative commons from Dana Rocks

    Mary lives in a college dorm and displays a poster on her door with the text of California Proposition 8: “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” She supported the successful “Yes on 8” campaign.  A constitutional challenge to the proposition is now working its way through the courts, and Mary is involved in the effort to prevent the proposition from being declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.

    James, her dorm neighbor, finds this poster offensive and demands Mary take it down. He worked to defeat the measure, which he feels is homophobic and discriminatory. To Mary, the poster is an expression of her beliefs and identity, and she does not think she should have to remove it.

    What should happen now?

    Best student response wins $50.  Rules

    Here are some resources from different perspectives that might help you decide:

    Making an Ethical Decision 

    Hate Speech on Campus: Pros and Cons 

    Student Speech: ACLU 

    Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) 

    Responding to Bigotry and Intergroup Strife on Campus: Anti-Defamation League

    Photo by Dana Rocks available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial License